In Vagad region of South Rajasthan, an opposition party from Gujarat tried to influence voters banking on the undercurrent in the tribal belt.
The tribal-dominated region that lies south of Mewar and shares border with Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in the South, has seen dissatisfaction against both Congress and centre-ruling BJP over the past few years.
Voters in the area report that none of the two major parties took care of their rights, Banking on this, Gujarat-based BTP (Bhartiya Tribal Party), which reaches out to tribal voters, mainly the younger population.
BTP has already formed a large network of young generation, which is headed by senior tribal leaders to canvas every corner and book of the region. “Proper implementation of schedule five of the Constitution, which deals with scheduled areas, is our main agenda because both BJP and Congress suppressed tribals and have ‘snatched’ their lands,” state Chief of the BTP Velaram Ghoghra told the source.
The state chief of BTP is himself contesting from the Rajasthan’s Dungarpur Constituency. Other than him, the party has also fielded 10 other BTP candidates and contesting on all four seats in Dungarpur, three seats in Banswara and one seat each in Udaipur, Sirohi, and Pratapgarh. Highlighting the “apathy” of the tribals, Mr. Ghogra said that “they are the custodians of the land but the situation today is that they have to stand along the roadside to seek employment.”
He continued that “Our people are migrating to other states, we have no local resources, electricity, and water is another core issue. Youths are educated but they are unemployed and therefore a kind of unrest is developing. People from outside come and grab the lands of tribal.” Ahead of the Assembly Elections in Rajasthan, the situation has been such that BJP and Congress have been putting extra efforts to ensure that their seats are secured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi have both toured that election-bound state. The 1-year old BTP was founded last year before the Gujarat elections by ex-JDU legislator Chotubhai Vasava. BTP secured two seats from Gujarat Elections in alliance with Congress. In election-bound Rajasthan, BTP has already found strong support from students’ group Bhil Vidhyarthi Morcha that has been active in the tribal belt for more than past 3-years.
Early this year, in the Union Elections BTP, has secured a substantial number of seats in Dungarpur College, Mr. Ghoghra said that “after the effective implementation of the scheduled 5, Bhil Pradesh will be our next major demand. We want a separate Bhil Pradesh comprising of tribal belt in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.”
There has been unease that unrest among the tribals may lead to such a situation like in Maoist affected areas of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Intelligence agencies have expressed their concern over several activities in the region.
Gulab Chand Kataria, Home Minister of Rajasthan, is contesting from the Udaipur Constituency said that “Yes, there were reports about some sensitive activities in the area over the last two-three years. Some people from states like Telangana have held meetings here. We did whatever we could do.”
Mr. Kataria continued that as far as BTP is concerned it would have the possibility to hamper the state-ruled BJP’s election prospects. “We ensured that people get an education and basic amenities in the tribal area. We have associated tribal people with our organizations and they (BTP)will not be able to win,” added the state Home Minister.
On the other side, Congress’s state Chief Sachin Pilot claims that when his party was in power it did enough for tribals’ welfare in the state. “Congress has always focused on the welfare of tribal people. On coming to power, we will address their issues by bringing everyone together,” he added.
Rajasthan Assembly will be voting for 199 seats of its total 200-members on December 7 and the result will be declared on December 11.